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6 Factors That Cause More Than 90% of Trucking Accidents

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6 Factors That Cause More Than 90% of Trucking Accidents - Jones Law Group

6 Factors That Cause More Than 90% of Trucking Accidents

By: Heath C. Murphy +Personal Injury

Collectively, semi-trucks travel about 140 billion miles per year, delivering goods in the United States. One-third of all U.S. semi trucks are registered in Florida, Texas, and California. Obviously, semi trucks are a necessary component of the economy, but when trucks are involved in accidents, the results can be catastrophic. Unfortunately, there has been an increase of nearly 20% in the number of trucking accidents. In 2012, in Florida, there were 194 semi trucks involved in fatal crashes, which was trailed only in Texas and California.

The Most Common Locations of Commercial Trucking Accidents

Semi-trucks in Florida are permitted to weigh 80,000 pounds and have lengths of 75 feet.[1] The average car weighs about 4,000 pounds and is less than 16 feet long. This means that semi trucks on the highway can be up to 20 times heavier and almost 5 times longer and several times higher. In a commercial trucking accident in which a car is involved, the injuries are likely to be life-altering. Additionally, it means that there are certain areas in which trucks are simply more vulnerable and likely to be involved in an accident.

1. Bridges pose unique challenges to truck drivers, and Florida has many bridges that accentuate these challenges. First, the height of the truck can make it vulnerable to wind gusts which can actually blow the truck over. Secondly, bridges usually do not offer anywhere to escape in the event the accident can be anticipated by the trucker or other drivers. The video below shows just how vulnerable a truck can be to wind on a bridge.

2. On and off ramps on the highway pose special dangers because cars are quickly accelerated and decelerating while making sudden lane changes. These areas challenge a truck driver’s ability to monitor all of truck’s blind spots.

3. City streets and the turns which must be made. Because of its sheer length the turning radius for a truck is much larger that on cars. This will require that truck drivers make extremely wide turns that cause accidents if the driver is unaware of this turning radius.

The Most Common Causes of Commercial Trucking Accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conducted a study which attempted to quantify all causes of trucking accidents.[2] There were more than 112,000 people injured in trucking accidents in 2011 with nearly 4,000 fatalities. The FMCSA sought to analyze the causes of trucking accidents and reached some interesting conclusions.

The FMSCA quantified the major causes for the trucking accidents which it studied and concluded that there were 6 factors that caused more than 90% of the trucking accidents. These primary factors are:

1. Illegal or Prescription Drug Use – In 26% of all trucking accidents the truck driver was found to be under the influence of prescription or illegal drugs. Many of the drugs used by truck drivers are to counteract the fatigue caused by long hours on the road, but these drugs also impair judgment and reflexes.

2. Speeding or Driving too Fast for the Conditions – In 23% of all trucking accidents speed was listed as the primary factor. Remember, semi trucks can weigh 80,000 and become much more difficult to stop quickly as their speed increases. Also, the force with which they will strike an car will rise exponentially as the speed increases.

3. Not Familiar with the Road – 22% of all semi accidents list the truck driver’s unfamiliarity with the road being travelled as a factor. Long haul truckers can travel thousands of miles, all across the country each week, so it is not surprising that the drivers would be travelling roads with which they were not familiar.

4. Over the Counter Drugs – 18% of all semi-truck accidents list over the counter drug usage as a cause of the accident. There are a variety of over the counter medications that can contribute to trucking accidents. The medications can range from No Doze to Nyquil.

5. Failure to Account for Cars in Blind Spot – 14% of all truck accidents were attributed to a failure of the driver to properly check blind spots. This is why it is so important for the drivers of cars to be aware of the truck’s blind spots and move in and out of the blind spot quickly.

6. Fatigue – 13% of all trucking accidents list fatigue as a primary cause. I believe that this number is understated. The top 5 causes of trucking accident can each be caused by or influenced by fatigue. Therefore, it seems likely that fatigue is a greater factor in trucking accidents than indicated in this study.

Contact Experienced Accident Attorney at Jones Law Group

Have you or a loved one been injured in an trucking accident? Contact an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury attorney at Jones Law Group today. When you contact our office we will immediately set an appointment where you will meet your attorney and be provided with his/her personal contact information. If you do not have transportation or you cannot drive, your attorney will travel to meet you and discuss your case with you in the privacy of your own home.

Whether you were a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or the occupant of car, motorcycle or boat and have been injured in an accident, you should immediately call an experienced personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg at Jones Law Group at (727) 571-1333 during regular business hours or (727) 753-8657 on weekends or after regular business hours. We will evaluate your case for free and you will never pay us a dime unless we recover compensation for your injuries.

Jones Law Group
5622 Central Avenue
St. Pete, FL 33707


[1] http://www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/cve/2013TruckingManual.pdf


Heath Murphy

About the Author

Heath Murphy is a partner at Jones Law Group and focuses on personal injury law. He has been working as a lawyer for 18 years and routinely writes about auto accidents, wrongful death, and personal injury laws.

Read more: Heath’s Bio